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Take Control of the Wheel: 8 Tips to Overcome Driving Anxiety

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overcoming driving fear and anxiety

While driving around town is a fairly common, uneventful activity most of the time, there are times and situations you may feel anxious behind the wheel–especially if you recently had an accident, are still learning to drive, have a new car, or are somewhere unfamiliar.

While The News Wheel is certainly not a medical authority, and we recommend you see a specialist if you suffer from a debilitating phobia of driving, hopefully these coaching suggestions will ease the tension experienced by those of us who get nervous while behind the wheel.

You’re Doing It Wrong: Learn where you’re supposed to be putting your hands on the steering wheel

Control Your Driving Anxiety by Trying These Approaches

  1. Practice breathing: Mastering deep, controlled breathing from the diaphragm will let more air into your lungs when you begin to panic and will keep you from becoming light-headed.
  2. Reduce distractions/stressors: If your car is filled with trash, aggressive music, talkative people, or unsettling engine noises, you’re going to become tense just by being in the car. Make your environment one that soothes and relaxes, not compounds your driving anxiety. Play peaceful music, de-clutter your car regularly, and drive with someone you trust.
  3. Affirmations: Don’t let your thoughts get the better of you. Keep control of your attitude by practicing in positive self-talk. Avoid getting caught up in what everyone else is doing and affirm that you’re in control behind the wheel. After all, you’re the one who chooses where the car goes.
  4. Stay loose: Keep your body relaxed, and learn to loosen up whenever you feel yourself becoming tense. Deliberately let your tightened muscles go limp and unwind.
  5. Write it out: List out what specifically scares you about driving and confront the reasons you feel anxious. Perhaps there are some aspects you can avoid or improve.
  6. Improve the route: Avoid crowded or busy streets/highways, even if it means lengthening your commute. Drive in calm neighborhoods at slow speeds to avoid stressful situations; also avoid commuting during prime traffic times.
  7. Familiarize: Take time to sit in the car even you’re not driving it anywhere. Becoming comfortable in and around your car reduces those feeling of panic you associate with the vehicle.
  8. Other factors: Perhaps your anxiety over driving isn’t being caused by the driving itself, but rather factors outside the car. For instance, you consume an excess of caffeine beforehand, don’t like the job you’re driving to, or don’t like the city you live in. Find ways to curb these stressors too.

If these techniques don’t improve your experience behind the wheel, consult a medical specialist about more drastic steps like therapy or medication.

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